As the retrial of former Governor Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges commences, we’d like to re-direct your attention to the personal drug importation program he championed. Had that program received better backing from our politicians, fewer Americans would have gone without needed medications.
In October of 2004, a personal drug importation program called I-Save Rx was launched under the leadership of Blagojevich and then Congressman Rahm Immanuel. The lead pharmacist responsible for the program’s development was Ram Kamath, PharmD, now Director of Pharmacy Policy and International Verifications for PharmacyChecker.com. I-Save Rx showed state residents how to access affordable medication from approved pharmacies in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Within just seven months, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas and Vermont had joined the initiative, allowing their residents to participate as well.
Unfortunately, after its approval, the government did not market the I-Save Rx program and it suffered due a lack of political will. But I-Save Rx’s creation proved that government could, without much difficulty, create a program to facilitate the purchase of affordable medication from Canada and other countries. In fact, our current Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, was governor of Kansas when she approved the program for use by her state’s residents. It should speak volumes that the administration official now tasked by President Obama with “protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves” approved of a personal drug importation program and made it available to the residents of Kansas. (more…)
Tagged with: Americans, Blagojevich, Canada, Dr. Ram Kamath, Drug Importation, Health Secretary, I-Save RX, Ireland, Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, Missouri, President Obama, public health, Rahm Immanuel, Retrial, United Kingdom, United States, Vermont, Wisconsin
Last May, we reported that AARP honored Senator Olympia Snowe (R- Maine) for her ongoing advocacy of policies and initiatives that seek to improve the lives of Americans age 50-plus. The award specifically mentioned her efforts to make safe drug importation legal and more available to help more Americans afford their medication. In our post on this recognition, we predicted that the issue of access to safe drugs would persist in the aftermath of the new healthcare legislation, and we’re now happy to announce that last week Senator Snowe put legalizing drug importation back on the Senate’s agenda.
Senator Snowe has introduced legislation that would amend the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic act to facilitate drug importation that would effectively lower prescription drug prices. Additionally, the bill would increase U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspections of international manufacturing plants. S. 319, the proposed Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2011, is similar to Senator Snowe’s co-sponsored bill from 2009, also known as the Dorgan Amendment. For more information on the Senator’s past support for personal drug importation, see our post Canadian Pharmacies and Personal Drug Importation Play Critical Role in Greater Healthcare Benefits for Americans. (more…)
Tagged with: AARP, bill, Canadian pharmacies, Congressman Ron Paul, Drug Importation, FDA, healthcare, personal drug importation, Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act, President Obama, S.319, safe drugs, Senate, Senator Chuck Grassley, Senator Snowe, seniors, United States, YouTube
Last week, YouTube hosted a question and answer session at the White House with President Barack Obama. Americans across the country submitted over 140,000 questions to YouTube, and over a million people voted on which of those questions moderator Steve Grove should ask the president. We were not surprised to find out that the top healthcare question related to none other than prescription drug prices and importation:
Why [does] the same medication that I use cost so much less in Mexico or Canada even though it is being made here in the United States? (Noah, 00:29:03)
Obama’s answer was upfront and honest, and frankly, we liked what he had to say. The president said, “Canada and Mexico are bulk purchasers of those drugs, so they negotiate much cheaper drug prices with the drug companies. We still don’t do that, and I actually think it’s something we should do – it would save us money.” We were also pleased to hear him reopening communication about drug importation. “It may be that importation is still something we should look at in terms of further lowering the price of drugs,” the president said. (more…)
Tagged with: Americans, Canada, drug costs, Drug Importation, Drug Prices, healthcare, Mexico, personal drug importation, President Obama, Senator Byron Dorgan, YouTube.com